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30 MILLION DAILY SCHOOL MEALS LIKELY TO UNDERGO FIRST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN NEARLY 50 YEARS

 WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The conflict between what the USDA recommends children eat, and what they are served everyday as part of the National School Lunch Program, was the focus of a final round of recently complete public hearings held in Washington.
 As preparations begin for the enactment of new regulations, Mike Espy, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Ellen Haas, Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services, culminated a series of four public hearings aimed at putting the 48-year old program in harmony with the revised nutritional and health standards as established by the 1990 Dietary Guidelines For Americans.
 David Braff, called on to represent Vermont cheese-maker Lucille Farms, Inc. because of his company's commitment to nutritional foods, reported, "The overwhelming consensus is that change is long overdue, and that new regulations are about to be enacted that will mandate an overhaul of the system, requiring the delivery of nutritionally sound meals."
 According to Secretary Espy, "Our children's diets are too high in fat, sodium and cholesterol and too low in fiber, fruits and vegetables. We need to turn that around in the school lunchroom as well as at the family dinner table."
 At the hearings, prominent food service directors and nutritionists urged changes in a price subsidy system that prevents schools from purchasing fresh produce or prepared foods using nutritional ingredients.
 According to Lucille Farms executive vice president Braff, "Parents, health professionals and teachers are working hard to educate children about the importance of good nutrition. But that message gets erased in the school cafeteria every time the lunch bell rings."
 Much of the testimony called for increased cash allocations in lieu of government subsidies and commodity foods. This would enable schools to make more independent, cost-effective purchases from regional as well as national suppliers.
 The new changes are expected to open opportunities for small and mid-sized manufacturers and processors that provide foods low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. This includes firms providing nutritional cheese products for use in schools' most popular lunch entree, pizza.
 The USDA is currently experimenting with pilot programs in which healthier ingredients and prepared foods are purchased directly by local food service directors. As part of that experiment, Lucille Farms, Inc., is supplying one of their three nutritional mozzarellas, Tasty-Lite Cheese(TM) Low Fat, for use in prepared pizzas.
 Said Assistant Secretary Haas, "The proposed reforms will bring about the change necessary to improve the health of our children, and their ability to learn."
 -0- 1/3/94
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos available upon request/
 /CONTACT: Steven Greene or Karen Sperling, both of Sperling Associates Public Relations, 212-366-5060, or fax, 212-366-5922/


CO: Lucille Farms, Inc. ST: New Jersey IN: FOD SU:

TM -- NY002 -- 8373 01/03/94 07:30 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 3, 1994
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